Spencertown Academy Presents Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference

Spencertown Academy Arts Center presents All Write, Columbia: Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference beginning Wednesday, October 19 through Sunday, October 23. This five-day intensive writing conference will focus on both the craft and the business of writing essays, biography, memoir, and narrative nonfiction. The faculty is made up of award-winning authors, editors, agents, and marketing experts, including Rahne Alexander, Michele Blankenship, Priya Doraswamy, Taylor Harris, Donna Kaz, Vanessa Mártir, Nayt Rundquist, and Pramila Venkateswaran.

The conference is open to all levels of nonfiction writers—from beginners who are just starting to write, to more advanced writers with a manuscript or publications. Tuition is $400 with some scholarship funds available for local writers from Columbia County. The deadline to apply is Friday, September 9. For submission guidelines, see www.spencertownacademy.org.

“If you have always wanted to tell your story or turn a personal experience into an essay, this conference is for you. We look forward to gathering a mix of both emerging and veteran writers for this intimate, inspiring, and unique conference,” says Conference Director Donna Kaz, who will co-facilitate the workshops with Pramila Venkateswaran at Spencertown Academy while guest panelists and authors are zoomed in. “All you need to apply is a short writing sample and the willingness to join together with others who share a passion for putting their life experiences onto the page. Even if you don’t feel your writing is strong enough yet, you will be immersed in all things creative nonfiction and will be motivated to get back to your desk as soon as the conference ends.”

Wednesday, October 19
6:00pm to 9:00pm

The conference kicks off with introductory session, followed by author Taylor Harris reading and discussing her recent debut memoir, This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown (Catapult, 2022), which was an Indie Next Pick and named by Essence as a most anticipated title of the year. Her writing has appeared in TIMEO QuarterlyThe Washington PostLongreadsThe CutRomperParents, and McSweeney’s.

Rahne Alexander

Thursday, October 20
7:00pm to 9:00pm

Rahne Alexander will give a creativity talk titled “Dealing with Rejection.” How does an artist accept both the positive and the negative reactions to their work, especially when what they write is based on a true experience? Alexander is an interdisciplinary artist and writer. She has contributed to numerous anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica (Cleis, 2011).

Vanessa Mártir

Friday, October 21

7:00pm to 9:00pm

Vanessa Mártir will give a craft talk titled “Writing the Ghosts that Haunt” in which she will discuss how writing about traumatic experiences can lead to a sense of redemption. She has been widely published, including in the New York TimesWashington PostLongreadsGuardianThe RumpusBitch Magazine,  and the bestselling anthology, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay.

Saturday, October 22

8:00am to 8:00pm

Writing workshops and one-on-one mentoring sessions facilitated by Donna Kaz and Pramila Venkateswaran, and a publishing panel Q & A  with a trio of powerhouse publishing professionals, including book publicist Michelle Blankenship of Blankenship Public Relations, literary agent Priya Doraswamy of Lotus Lane Literary, and Nayt Rundquist, who is managing editor of New Rivers Press. Kaz is a multi-genre writer and the author of UN/MASKED: Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour (Skyhorse, 2016). She has been widely published in outlets ranging from Variety and Ms. Magazine to Crab Orchard Review and The Sun. Venkateswaran is both a poet and creative nonfiction author. She has published seven books of poetry and was poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island. Her essays have appeared in The Writer’s ChronicleThe Women’s Studies QuarterlySocialism and DemocracyJournal of Postcolonial Writing, and in anthologies of literature, culture, and politics.

Sunday, October 23

8:00am to 5:00pm

Writing workshops and individual mentoring sessions continue with Kaz and Venkateswaran. From 2:00pm to 4:00pm at the Academy, there will be an open reading of new and published works by conference participants and faculty. Note: this reading is the only conference event that is open to the public; admission is free.

“The All Write, Columbia conference is committed to diversity and our faculty reflect an all-encompassing and equal world. Our goal is to challenge, inspire, and foster a writers community that continues beyond the workshops. We are eager to help writers develop both creative skills and marketing savvy in this small, focused conference,” says Academy Vice President Madaline Sparks. “Because of the generous grant we received from NYSCA this year, we are able to offer this extraordinary opportunity to our community at a greatly reduced rate. Conferences like this usually cost upwards of $1000. And we are delighted to be able to offer some scholarship money to a few local writers.”

This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The Academy has installed multiple Blueair HealthProtect 7470 air purifiers in the building. Academy leadership is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Columbia County, as well as recommendations from health authorities, and will adjust protocols as necessary.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Spencertown Academy arts organization, and the 175th year since the Academy was built as a school in 1847. Housed in a landmark 1847 Greek Revival schoolhouse, the Academy is located at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, New York.